Posts Tagged ‘Shaquille O’Neal’

Where for art thou Phoenix?

November 10, 2008

Actually, it’s a super interesting process …

Whither the Suns: An Update

gradually becoming more and more active on-line, in a variety of different places.

Where they’ll go from here

October 27, 2008

The NBA’s pre-season is now complete.

These are the final standings:

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2008-2009 Conference Preseason Standings
Eastern Conference
Eastern W L PCT GB CONF DIV HOME ROAD L 10 STREAK
Orlando 6 1 0.857 0.0 4-1 4-1 3-1 3-0 6-1 W 6
Boston 6 2 0.750 0.5 5-2 3-2 3-1 3-1 6-2 W 2
Detroit 6 2 0.750 0.5 5-1 3-0 3-2 3-0 6-2 L 1
Atlanta 5 3 0.625 1.5 4-1 3-1 1-2 4-1 5-3 W 1
Philadelphia 4 3 0.571 2.0 4-3 4-1 1-2 3-1 4-3 W 1
Chicago 4 4 0.500 2.5 1-1 1-1 2-3 2-1 4-4 W 3
Indiana 4 4 0.500 2.5 1-0 1-0 3-1 1-3 4-4 W 1
Toronto 4 4 0.500 2.5 1-1 1-1 2-3 2-1 4-4 L 2
New Jersey 3 4 0.429 3.0 2-4 1-4 1-3 2-1 3-4 W 1
New York 3 4 0.429 3.0 3-4 3-4 0-3 3-1 3-4 L 2
Cleveland 3 5 0.375 3.5 3-3 0-1 2-3 1-2 3-5 W 1
Miami 2 5 0.286 4.0 0-3 0-1 1-3 1-2 2-5 W 1
Washington 2 5 0.286 4.0 0-2 0-0 0-2 2-3 2-5 L 1
Milwaukee 1 7 0.125 5.5 0-3 0-3 1-3 0-4 1-7 L 3
Charlotte 0 8 0.000 6.5 0-4 0-4 0-2 0-6 0-8 L 8
Western Conference
Western W L PCT GB CONF DIV HOME ROAD L 10 STREAK
New Orleans 7 0 1.000 0.0 2-0 1-0 4-0 3-0 7-0 W 7
Denver 5 1 0.833 1.5 3-1 2-1 3-0 2-1 5-1 W 2
L.A. Lakers 6 2 0.750 1.5 2-2 1-1 6-2 0-0 6-2 W 6
Minnesota 6 2 0.750 1.5 2-1 2-1 3-1 3-1 6-2 W 1
Houston 5 2 0.714 2.0 5-0 3-0 3-1 2-1 5-2 W 3
Phoenix 5 2 0.714 2.0 3-0 1-0 2-1 3-1 5-2 W 3
Golden State 4 2 0.667 2.5 2-1 0-0 3-0 1-2 4-2 W 2
Portland 4 3 0.571 3.0 3-3 0-2 2-2 2-1 4-3 L 1
Utah 4 3 0.571 3.0 3-2 2-1 1-1 3-2 4-3 W 2
Dallas 4 4 0.500 3.5 1-0 0-0 2-2 2-2 4-4 L 2
L.A. Clippers 4 4 0.500 3.5 2-3 2-1 0-4 4-0 4-4 L 3
San Antonio 3 4 0.429 4.0 0-2 0-2 1-3 2-1 3-4 L 2
Memphis 2 6 0.250 5.5 0-2 0-2 2-2 0-4 2-6 L 4
Oklahoma City 1 6 0.143 6.0 0-5 0-1 0-1 1-5 1-6 L 3
Sacramento 1 7 0.125 6.5 1-7 0-2 1-3 0-4 1-7 L 6
 x-Clinched Playoff Berth | e-Clinched Eastern Conference | a-Clinched Atlantic Division | c-Clinched Central Division |
 se-Clinched Southeast Division | w-Clinched Western Conference | sw-Clinched Southwest Division |
 nw-Clinched Northwest Division | p-Clinched Pacific Division | o-Eliminated from Playoffs contention

———————————–

Fans should take a close look at where their favourite team is at today … and, then, compare this reality to the final regular season standings which they’ll see in April, 2009, as the little bolded letters get placed beside the playoff-bound teams’ names in the far-left column.

Time to Let the games begin, in earnest …

———————————–

Mano a Mano

Mano a Mano

Certified

Certified

Bad Boyz II

Bad Boyz II

Sunrise, Sunset

Sunrise, Sunset

———————————–

2nd Coming

because this is going to be a terrific year, in the NBA!

Making the correct decisions in the Valley of the Sun

October 24, 2008

What a difference a year makes … when you add a new head coach to a veteran team.

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Suns starting Barnes at small forward
“Grant brings a lot to that second unit with a lot of stability as a veteran with possibly two rookies on that second unit,” Porter said. “He can relieve some of the pressure that Goran (Dragic) may get at times and I like Grant to have the ball in his hands. That’s one of his strong points – to make decisions and make plays.”

With the goal to limit Hill to about 25 minutes per game, Hill would have sat for long stints if he started. Instead, he must adjust to a bench role after doing it only eight times in a 705-game career.

“I don’t mind it at all,” Hill said. “One of the things we talked about at training camp was our depth can be a weapon for us. You look at the Lakers and their second unit did wonders for them coming in a lot of times to extend a lead and provide a spark.
“Hopefully, we can wear you out as a team and continue to hit you with talent and guys who can make plays.”
Porter likes Barnes’ shooting range to spread the floor while still having a solid wing defender.
“It didn’t really matter to us,” Barnes said. “Once my shots start falling, I can help stretch the floor. I can help Raja (Bell) out there because this league is full of two and threes who are scorers. I’ll just bring a lot of energy.”

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Those who under-estimate the Phoenix Suns this season will be in for a rude awakening, both, in the regular season and at playoff time … given:

i) This new role for Grant Hill;
ii) A reduced role for Shaquille O’Neal;
iii) The additions of Matt Barnes, Alando Tucker, Robin Lopez, Goran Dragic, Sean Singletary & Louis Amundson; and,
iv) The arrival of Terry Porter, with his focus on Rebounding, Defense & Team Offense.

If they eventually fall this season, sometime in May … let’s say, to the Lakers’ juggernaut, it will not be because they are once again ill-equipped to go the distance as they’ve been in seasons past under the premise of Seven Seconds or Less.

Thus far, every decision the Steve Kerr/Terry Porter tandem has made, in an effort to re-tool their once mis-directed team, has moved the Suns closer to realizing their long term goal of reaching and then winning the NBA Finals Series.

For the 1st time since the 1995-1996 season, this team has the type of Marquee Players, QUALITY DEPTH throughout the roster, Coaching & Style of Play it takes to be considered a Legitimate Contender for the League Championship.

Worthyfying Amare

October 21, 2008

If the question is …

Can Amare Stoudemire become a real life James Worthy [Lakers' HOFer] clone this season for the Phoenix Suns?

Courtesy of TrueHoop

Goggles alone can not make Tha Man.

Goggles alone cannot make Tha Man.

Then the likely answer is …

Only if Shaquille O’Neal can also transform himself into a working version of a venerable Kareem Abdul Jabbar [the Lakers' other bi-spectacled HOFer], circa 1987-1988, who regularly played 79-80 games for the LakeShow during the twilight stages of his historic NBA career, while still putting up solid numbers like these.

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Then, again … considering this is a League Where Amazing Happens, on the regular, and Anything Is Possible … who’s to say what lies ahead this season, in the NBA, when The Game Happens Here.

Filling in the gaps for the Suns

September 20, 2008

Further to: Whither the Suns in the Western Conference 

A report yesterday indicates that a new ‘Starting 5′ is on the way, in Phoenix, this season …

======================

Barnes expected to start; Hill to come off the bench
” … in a roundabout way, Matt Barnes adds depth to the team, as he will be starting and Grant Hill will move to the bench this season.

This last point just about floored everyone in attendance [at the Suns' Fantasy Camp], but it sounds like this is what Coach Porter and Hill want to do [according to Suns' President Rick Welts, who addressed the campers directly].”

======================

If accurate … it’s another step in the right direction for the Suns, by the Terry Porter/Steve Kerr tandem, as the following new line-up:

STARTERS:
1 – Nash
2 – Bell
3 – Barnes
4 – Stoudemire
5 – O’Neal

SUBS:
1 – Singeletary
1 – Dragic
1/2 – Leandro Barbosa
2/3 – Hill
3/2 – Tucker
4/3 – Diaw
4 – Amundson
5 – Lopez

is a better balanced set-up than Mike D’Antoni’s prior alternative versions.

UPDATE: Confirmation that Grant Hill would be on-board with this proposed shift in Phoenix. [Wed Sep 24 2008]

Shaq’s all-time ranking, as a dominant player

September 17, 2008

In his weekly chat, David Thorpe [ESPN NBA Insider/Analyst] provides his succinct assessment of Shaquille O’Neal’s legacy, as an NBA player, when all is said and done:

======================

Christopher, Germany: Hi David, love your chats. After they ended their carreers, who ranks higher on the all-time list: Shaq or Kobe?

SportsNation David Thorpe: Shaq.

Nate (New Haven): David, no way shaq ends up higher. Kobe’s got 3 rings, 5 finals appearences, same number of all nba teams and 8 more defensive team appearences. What planet are you living on?

SportsNation David Thorpe: Shaq is top 3 all time in terms of pure dominance. His stats are unreal. Here on earth, we consider such things.

Christopher, Germany: who are the other two all-time-best in pure dominance?

SportsNation David Thorpe: I’d suggest Wilt and Kareem, in totally different ways.

======================

Well … this corner of the blogosphere does NOT concur with Mr. Thorpe’s opinion … in regard to the ‘Big Aristotle’, as a once dominant NBA player.

Speaking strictly as a Center … Shaq doesn’t place in the Top 5 all-time … amongst those I would choose to anchor the middle for a Dream Team.

1. Bill Russell [11 NBA titles in 13 years ... nuff, said]
2. Kareem Abdul Jabbar [the greatest offensive force in hoops' history]
3. Hakeem Olajuwon [the most skilful Post Player of all-time]
4. Wilt Chamberlain [the most physically dominant player in any era]
5. Tim Duncan [the Big Fundamental ... nuff, said]

When considering other players, as well, who’ve played other positions … at least, the following individuals would also rank well above ‘the Diesel’, in terms of their all-time dominance … 

1. Michael Jordan
2. Oscar Robertson
3. Magic Johnson
4. Larry Bird
5. Kobe Bryant

at the height of their physical prowess.

There’s no doubt whatsoever that Shaquille O’Neal is the single Most Powerful Force [of Nature] in the history of the game … i.e. combining Size, Strength, Speed, Agility, Quickness, Explosivity and Intelligence.

This FACT is a given.

BUT[T] … and, it’s a rather LARGE One, at this point … there is simply NO WAY, SHAPE or FORM, he should legitimately be listed amongst the MOST EFFECTIVE [i.e. 'the Greatest', or 'the Best', or 'the Most Dominant'] players of all-time.

Whether your are ranking by (i) most championships won, (ii) most all-star appearances, (iii) most prolific individual statistics, or (iv) most combined areas of standard productivity/efficiency measures … including overall skill level and/or competitive will, etc., … neither Shaq’s actual performance nor his crunched numbers [associated with his overall body of work] stack up well, in comparison with the greatest players in the history of the game.

Whither the Suns in the Western Conference

September 16, 2008

At the beginning of last season, this corner forecast the precipatous decline of ‘Seven Seconds or Less … and then went on to proclaim early-on that, after 3 years at-or-near the top of the Western Conference, knocking on the door of the NBA Finals, Phoenix WOULD NOT EVEN MAKE IT OUT OF THE 1st ROUND OF THE PLAYOFFS LAST SEASON …

* NBA Playoffs Preview [2007-2008]
* Legitimate Contenders in the NBA: Part IV
* Eclipse of The Suns: An Update
* Hubris, The Big Aristotle and the Phoenix Suns
* Eclipse of the Suns

which is precisely what happened.

==========================

Looking back on 2007-2008 …

Q1. What exactly did the Suns accomplish, since the start of last season?
A1. By …

* Replacing Mike D’Antoni with Steve Kerr [former PG with the Bulls & Spurs]
* Adding Grant Hill [6-8, 225]
* Replacing Shawn Marion [6-7, 230] with Shaquille O’Neal [7-1, 325]
* Replacing Mike D’Antoni with Terry Porter [former PG with the Blazers]
* Retaining & then elevating Alando Tucker [6-6, 205]
* Adding Robin Lopez [7-0, 255], Matt Barnes [6-7, 226], Goran Dragic [6-4, 180], Sean Singletary [6-0, 185] and Louis Amundson [6-9, 225]

they’ve changed the entire culture of the organization … AND dramatically improved their chances of returning to the upper echelon of the Western Conference next season and beyond.

That’s what they’ve done in Phoenix over the last 12 months.

Whereas, last year at this time, the Suns were an ALL OFFENSE, NO DEFENSE & POOR REBOUNDING team, using a bandjo-tight 8-man rotation … with almost no legit chance to ever win four [4] consecutive series in the NBA playoffs [what it takes to claim the title!] … as they head to training camp this year … this is NO LONGER the eternal and/or external make-up of this team.

THIS TEAM, this season … with the line-up it can now put on the floor, night-in and night-out:

STARTERS
1 – Nash [6-3, 178]
2 – Bell [6-5, 215]
3 – Hill
4 – Stoudemire [6-10, 249] 
5 – Shaq
————-
KEY BENCH SUBS
1 – Singletary [or Dragic]
2/1 – Barbosa [6-3, 202]
3/2 – Tucker [or Barnes]
4/3 – Diaw [6-8, 235] [or Amundson]
5 – Lopez
————-
RESERVES
1 – Dragic [or Singletary]
3 – Barnes [or Tucker]
4 – Amundson
————-
HEALTHY SCRATCHES
3 – Piatkowski [?]
4/5 – Marks [?]

is as deep and athletically talented as any other outfit in the Western Conference,

this side of the LA Lakers, and

has a solid chance to return to the Western Conference Playoffs … WITH a legit opportunity to win a round or two and, possibly, advancing to the WC Finals, once again … as an upper echelon team, in the NBA.

By returning the focus in Phoenix to what makes for a championship calibre product, in this League … i.e. a commitment to REBOUNDING, Team Defense and a Balanced [higly structured] Team Offense … Steve Kerr may have accomplished in just one season at the helm something which Jerry Colangelo, Bryan Colangelo & Mike D’Antoni [before him] were NOT able to do over the course of their careers in the ‘Valley of the Sun’ … i.e. transform this team into a LEGITIMATE CONTENDER for an NBA championship … i.e. please see, What it takes to win the NBA Championship.

Which is not an easy feat … working for an owner with the reputation of one Robert Sarver.

Q2. Could it be … ‘The Rising of a New Sun[s] in Phoenix‘ this season? 
A2. Yes, Sir, indeed … it just might be that exact thing.

In appreciation of the Worm

August 29, 2008

Okay … it’s been a relatively slow week, post Beijing and all.

However, as each day has slipped by the following video clip … via Wednesday’s BDL … just kept lingering in the subconscience of this correspondent:

… as ‘Exhibit A’ pertaining to the only man in the History of the NBA who could actually defend … with aplomb … all 5 positions on the court, against some of the most outstanding athletes (in any sport) of ALL-TIME.

In conjunction with the seemingly outlandish claim of the ZenMaster …

“He could probably play a 48-minute game and play the 48th minute stronger than the first minute of the game,” Jackson told the crowd at UND. “He was that terrific an athlete.”

and what was written in this space last season …

The Worm vs the Winner [Jan 31, 2008]

know that these eyes are in full agreement with the acute observation of Dr. Phil.

Based upon his on-court performance … Dennis Rodman HAS EARNED his place some day in the Basketball Hall Of Fame … and, it will be a d*mn shame if he never gets there.

Chris Bosh should be starting for Team USA

August 15, 2008

This is the answer which was given in this space [August 4, 2008]  to the following question:

=============================================

5. Carlos Boozer and Chris Bosh will be fighting for the back-up Center minutes; who should win the job?

This is a silly question.

If Team USA wanted to dominate the international competition this year … the most potent line-up it could put on the floor would see Carlos Boozer at the 4/Power Forward AND Chris Bosh at the 5/Center positions, not ‘fighting for the back-up Center minutes.

For further explanation, see the link provided in the answer to Question #3. -)

=============================================

that was asked by the good folks at Upside and Motor, in their Team USA Blogger Roundtable [to which this corner had not received an invite :-) ].

10 days later …

Raptors’ Chris Bosh emerging as a leader for the U.S. team: Draws rave reviews from coach, teammates with strong showing on defense

and it is somewhat gratifying to see that one or two others in the basketball community [at-large] have at last begun to ‘see’ what this corner has known about this young man [Chris Bosh], as a Center in the NBA, for a VERY LONG TIME …

De-constructing the mystery that is Chris Bosh [April 21, 2008]

It never ceases to amaze what some so-called ‘NBA experts’ think they understand about the game.

De-constructing the mystery that is Chris Bosh

April 21, 2008

In the NBA, Chris Bosh is … and has always been … a Finesse Center/5.

Chris Bosh (6-10, 230, Lefty) is not a Power Forward/4.

Never has been; never will be.

In fact, Chris Bosh is not a Power player, at all.

In the NBA, Chris Bosh has few, if any, ‘Mismatch Advantages’ when he isn’t playing the Center position.

Is Chris Bosh a franchise player?

YES, he is … but not THE kind of player many THINK he is …

nor the kind of player he’s been made to play as, to this point in his pro career, as a Core Member of  the Toronto Raptors, under the Leadership of Rob Babcock & Bryan Colangelo (the team’s General Managers) AND the coaching of Kevin O’Neill & Sam Mitchell.

Chris Bosh’s Strength, as a basketball player, is as a Finesse Center/5 … who is:

1) A terrific Team Defender, in the Middle of the action, in the Lane, where & when he can defend each of the other 4 players on the court … in addition to his own individual check, which he isn’t very good at doing to begin with, as a Finesse, Shot-blocking 5 … in the mold of ‘the Great Bill Russell‘ (6-10, 220, Lefty);

2) A terrific Rebounder, capable of averaging 15+ boards a contest, if made to emphasize this aspect of the game … in the mold of ‘the Great Bill Russell';

3) A terrific Character Guy, with the Core trait of Un-Selfishness that is shared with the other truly great Centers who have ever played the game … e.g. Men like Miken, (the Great Bill) Russell, Reed, Abdul-Jabbar & Walton (plus, in today’s environment, the ‘Big Fundamental’, Tim Duncan);

4) A solid Mid-Post and Elbow scorer (i.e. within 15-18 feet of the basket) … when he’s matched-up exclusively vs THE opponent’s Bigall of whom he can simply ‘out-quick’, relative to this position on the floor … but which can only be dictated by Bosh’s coach, if said coach plays Bosh as THE Biggest player within his own ‘Group-of-5’ and not the 2nd biggest, who can go into the Post and command an ‘Inside-Out’ double-team, based on his ability to score the ball from this position on the floor … with his FINESSE ‘Face-Up’ game; rather than a ‘power game’ which Chris Bosh simply does not and will NEVER EVER have.

Unfortunately for Chris Bosh, since he was drafted into the NBA by the Toronto Raptors he has yet to play for a GM or a coach who knows what his ACTUAL STRENGTHS are as a pro player, and as a person, in general … and has not yet been developed into the type of dominating ALL-PRO individual he is truly capable of eventually becoming in this League … similar to ‘the Great Bill Russell’.

But, for anyone to claim that Chris Bosh is not a franchise player … is just plain WRONG.

When a player handles the ball a lot off the bounce, or on the dribble-up … something which Chris Bosh does not do … it is irrelevant if that player is being played out of position, on Offense, in the NBA.

That player can simply ‘go and get the ball’ and take the game over by himself, off the bounce, when need be … e.g. like MJ, Kobe, LBJ, Chris Paul, Oscar, Magic, etc.

Likewise, when a player has an ‘interior’ Power game (i.e. Drop Step, Jump Hook, Turn-around Jump Shot, Up & Under, etc.) … in general, something which Chris Bosh does not have … this player’s teammates can simply throw the ball inside to him whenever he is using his SIZE & PHYSICAL STRENGTH to gain an advantageous position, in the Low Post, and allow him to ‘go to work’ inside, either scoring the ball himself or by creating open shots for his teammates … e.g. like Shaq, Duncan, Wilt and Miken have all done.

However, when a player is a Finesse Center/5 … like Chris Bosh or Rasheed Wallace or Hakeem Olajuwon or Jack Sikma or Bill Walton or Dave Cowens or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Willis Reed or ‘the Great Bill Russell’ … on Offense, he is dependent (i) on his coach to play him in the correct position, for his unique skill set, and (ii) his teammates to get him the ball in the spots on the floor that he can be the most effective, either as a passer or a scorer; while, on Defense, he is dependent on his coach to match him up correctly against the individual check that allows him to not only defend this player BUT the other 4 players on the court, as well, especially if he can ‘block shots & rebound’ like Chris Bosh, Olajuwon, Walton, Abdul-Jabbar and ‘the Great Bill Russell’ can/could all do at the peak of their NBA careers (i.e. from 27-to-35 years of age).

Chris Bosh (at only 24 years of age) is a Finesse Center/5, in the NBA … who, if used correctly, is a Franchise Player that can be a Centrifugal Force in the League for years to come … in the mold of ‘the Great Bill Russell’ … unless, of course, the best years of his career are frittered away playing for a hapless team whose GM’s and coaches do not have a clue about what his actual strengths are, as a player and a person, and just how good (i.e. talented, unselfish & hard-working) he is, relative to the other players in the League who play the Center position.

 


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